2014 was an extraordinarily eventful and exciting year at the German Aerospace Center. The landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and the mission by German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst were undisputed highlights. But the research conducted in other areas was extremely diverse, and sought to find answers to questions in the fields of aeronautics, aerospace, energy, transport and security. We have put together some of these research highlights in the DLR year in review. What makes it special this time are five faces of DLR: protagonists introducing themselves and their field of work.
The film sequence shown here is based on HRSC image data taken from four overflights above Becquerel Crater, put together to form a mosaic (orbits 3253_1, 5368, 5350 and 5332). The average image resolution is approximately 17 metres per pixel. Planetary scientists at Freie Universität Berlin involved in the Mars Express mission used the HRSC image data to produce the animation.
Becquerel Crater is located in the Arabia Terra region, the transitional zone from the Southern Highlands of Mars to its Northern Lowlands, and has a diameter of 167 kilometres. Like many other craters in this region, the interior of Becquerel shows interesting sedimentation phenomena.
A short but significant 'thud' was heard by the Cometary Acoustic Surface Sounding Experiment (CASSE) as Philae made its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The two-second recording from space is the very first of the contact between a man-made object with a comet upon landing. The CASSE sensors are located in the feet at the base of all three legs of the lander and were active on 12 November 2014 during the descent to the comet.
This animation of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko uses a three-dimensional digital model of the comet nucleus, which was produced by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin using stereo photogrammetry. It represents the comet's surface with a resolution of two metres. For the computation of the model, about 180 images were acquired by the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera (OSIRIS-NAC) between 5 August and 3 September 2014. The landing trajectory corresponds with plans made by ESA. The approximately seven-hour-long manoeuvre is shown accelerated in time. The methods employed were developed in the Departments of Planetary Geodesy and Planetary Geology at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research and have been used successfully for over 20 years on planetary missions. For Rosetta, they were adapted and expanded for the specific conditions of a comet mission.
The data used to generate the simulated overflight were acquired with the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft. Once again, image strips from orbit 18 - symbolically significant for the HRSC scientists - were edited and used for the animations and images shown here. Over 10 years ago, in January 2004, Mars Express flew over Hydraotes Chaos during orbit 18. This was the third time that the HRSC camera had been switched on, and the images in the image strips, which were over 1000 kilometres long, were so spectacular that they were drawn on for publication of the first images from the successful ESA mission.
The data used to generate the 3D overflight were acquired with the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft. The nadir channel, which is directed vertically down onto the surface of Mars, and one of the four stereo channels in the HRSC camera system, can be used to create anaglyph images, which produce a realistic, three-dimensional view of the landscape when viewed with red/blue or red/green glasses.
Column concentration of volcanic ash in grams per square metre, derived using VADUGS, applied to the eruption of the volcano Puyehue in Chile in June 2011. The scene illustrates both the temporal masking of volcanic ash by high-lying cloud (colored black), but also the potential for using the high temporal resolution of MSG-SEVIRI for nowcasting.
The model shows the illumination of the surface and regions that might be suitable for a landing.
The Schlörwagen was an experimental vehicle that caused quite a stir in 1939. Its aerodynamic performance, expressed as its drag coefficient (Cd value), was a mere 0.186 and therefore a real sensation. Subsequent measurements that Volkswagen conducted on a model during the 1970s confirmed the Schlörwagen's Cd of just 0.15. Modern cars possess Cd values of between 0.24 and 0.3 and therefore do not come close to the Schlörwagen's perfectly tailored aerodynamic shape. Only modern experimental vehicles such as the Volkswagen ‘1-litre car’ or the ETH Zürich ‘PAC-Car II’ have lower Cd values. But unlike these models, the Schlörwagen could fit seven people – something of a family vehicle.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) MASCOT asteroid lander will launch in December 2014 on board the Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, with asteroid 1999 JU3 as its destination.
Scientists at DLR Göttingen have achieved a world first – showing the deformation of an aircraft propeller blade during flight. They have developed a special camera that can resist the enormous forces exerted during rotation. Their findings could not only help to improve aircraft propellers, but also helicopter rotors and wind turbines.
The AISat satellite will receive Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals transmitted by ships while it orbits at an altitude of 660 kilometres. Its helical antenna will be pointed towards Earth and will locate ships, especially in high traffic areas like the German Bight.
How the world looks from the perspective of a propeller. The background rushing past is the world appearing to revolve. In reality, the propeller rotates more than 2000 times per minute – and with it a new camera system created by DLR researchers at Göttingen. Thousands of recordings have enabled them to make deformation of propeller blades in flight visible for the first time.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the US corporation Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. (TBE) signed an agreement to install and operate the imaging spectrometer DESIS (DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer) on board the International Space Station (ISS). DESIS is a hyperspectral camera that records image data using an array of up to 240 closely spaced channels, covering the visible and near infrared portions of the spectrum (450 to 915 nanometres) with a ground resolution of approximately 90 metres.
An international group of researchers has succeeded in producing the world's first jet fuel from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide in the SOLAR-JET (Solar chemical reactor demonstration and Optimization for Long-term Availability of Renewable JET fuel) project. Unlike conventional kerosene, produced using petroleum, the alternative fuel is based on resources that are available in almost unlimited quantities and could therefore make a significant contribution to sustainability and supply security within air transport. The project partners include the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), ETH Zürich, Bauhaus Luftfahrt, Shell Global Solutions and the consulting firm ARTTIC.
The Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was launched 10 years ago. Up until then, the comet lander Philae still had no name. In this video, Serena Olga Vismara tells the story of how she named the comet lander in 2004 when she was 15 years old and how she became a Space Engineering Student at the University of Milan - where she will finish her studies in November 2014, exactly when Philae is scheduled to land on the comet.
A first: DLR German Aerospace Center scientists use 3D camaras on a flight campaign in the Annapurna section of the Himalayas in north-central Nepal.
A team of German pilots from the Mountain Wave Project (MWP) and researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have achieved a groundbreaking feat around the highest mountain on Earth. For the first time, they flew to the summit of Mount Everest, 8848 metres above sea level, in a motorised glider – taking with them a special 3D camera, the Modular Airborne Camera System, or MACS. This innovative camera system, developed as part of DLR's focus on technology for security, has been designed to provide the data required to produce a remarkably precise 3D model of the Nepalese Everest region with a resolution of down to 15 centimetres. These images will help improve forecasts of landslides and floods resulting from the outbursting of glacial lakes.